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Clan MacLea - Livingstone

The Official Home of the Clan McLea (The ancient historical name of the Livingstones)

The Lion Rampant


David Livingstone - Lismore in Alba

Rev Ian Carmichael, DSO, MC

Some of the items in the latter part of the story appear to be corroborated by David Livingstone himself, when he says: "Our great-grandfather fell at the battle of Culloden, fighting for the old line of kings"; and he places the original home of his ancestors somewhere in the Parish of Lismore and Appin, when, referring to the change of faith which the Reformation brought into their life, he adds: "they were made Protestants by the laird coming round with a man having a yellow staff, which would seem to have attracted more attention than his teaching, for the new religion went along afterwards-perhaps it does so still-by the name of the religion of the yellow stick." This "yellow stick" was obviously the Bachull Mor of Moluag. It has been pointed out already, that in consequence of its coating of yellow metal (gold or copper), it was frequently called Am Bachull Buidhe (the yellow staff). That Moluag's pastoral staff should have been put to such a use is not surprising, although it detracts from the purity of the Reformers' methods in Lismore that they should have had recourse to the relic of a Saint to reinforce their doctrine.

A more credible account of Dr. David Livingstone's ancestors states that his grandfather, Neil, was born in Lismore and was a younger son of a Baron of that time. After the '45 he left the Island and settled in the Island of Kerrera, whence he moved later to Ulva. The rest of the story agrees with what has been stated above. Towards the end of last century there was still living at Portnacroish, Appin, a Livingstone, who was known to be the nearest of kin in the district from which Dr. Livingstone's ancestors sprung. He had one child only-a daughter-whose grandchildren are the family known as Colthart, members of whom are still resident in Lismore, Connel and Oban.

There is said to have been a striking resemblance between the great explorer and members of the Bachull family. Baron Alexander, though taller, was mistaken for David Livingstone on one occasion. The custodians of the pastoral staff had the reputation of being tall, strong and handsome. It is not clear what McMolmore means: it might be "big-browed," and such a description would be quite appropriate to some of those at present bearing the name. On the other hand "son of the tonsured of Mary" (Maol Moire) has also been suggested.

In The Celtic Review April 15 1909, pp 356-375 Alexander Carmichael wrote:

The Barons of Bachuill are of interest to all who are interested-and who is not ?-in Dr. David Livingstone. The great missionary explorer was descended from these Livingstone Barons of Bachuill in Lismore. Neil Livingstone, the young son of the old Baron, joined the army of Prince Charlie, and was in the rising of l745. He escaped, but not scathe less, the disasters of Culloden and made his way home to Bachuill. But Lismore was not a safe asylum, being the country of the Campbells, and the parish of the Rev. John MacAulay. This John MacAulay, who had been minister of South Uist, was the grandfather of Lord Macaulay, and like his father in Harris, the Rev. Aulay MacAulay, he made himself obnoxious by trying to secure the Prince.

Neil Livingstone crossed from Lismore to Morven, and after a time from Morven to Mull, and finally from Mull to Ulva, adjoining. Donald Livingstone, the son of Neil Livingstone, was in the local Fencibles of his day. During the annual drills at Oban and Stirling he made the acquaintance of his namesake and distant kinswoman, Catherine Livingstone, whose father was a farmer at Bailemore in Kerrara, opposite Oban. When his regiment was finally disbanded Donald Livingstone married Catherine Livingstone and brought her home with him to Ulva. Things, however, did not prosper in Ulva with the young people, and after a time they removed to Blantyre on the Clyde. Donald Livingstone had a son, Neil, the father of David Livingstone, whose name will live while courage, honesty, and humanity are admired among men.

Last updated 20 April, 2013